AEW Dynamite 11/08/23: 3 Things We Hated And 3 Things We Loved

Welcome to Wrestling Inc.'s devilishly detailed weekly review of "AEW Dynamite," the show where the only thing more powerful than friendship is the bond between Winnipeggers who hate other Winnipeggers. Wednesday's broadcast saw a championship get defended, a championship get vacated, and the debut of AEW's latest free agent signing, and WINC's writing and editorial staff had opinions on all those things —though not on everything from this week's episode. For the full breakdown, as always, check out our live coverage/results page.

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We're here now to discuss what we actually thought of the evening's events. Did Daniel Garcia dance his way back into our hearts? Are we still compelled by the storyline between Jay White, Samoa Joe, The Acclaimed, MJF, and whoever is wearing the devil mask? And most importantly, did Sting and Darby Allin get outshone by the Outrunners? Here are three things we hated and three things we loved about the 11/8/23 episode of "AEW Dynamite."

Loved: Daniel Garcia remembers his pro wrestling roots (Ross Berman, WINC news writer)

Daniel Garcia and MJF did not have a match that could be called World Title Caliber, but the 10-minute sprint between the two young grapplers was a solid opening contest and one that was a good reminder of why both men have the reputation they do. Garcia promised to be a "pro wrestler" instead of a "sports entertainer" and the back-and-forth match had a lot of that crisp grappling that Garcia was known for early on. It wasn't until he busted out his trademark sports entertainer dance that he was caught in MJF's armbar for the submission.

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MJF continuing to have these competitive matches despite not having the AEW World title in his possession is an odd choice, but one that grows nobler with each match. God help me, I find myself starting to respect the champion who — at the beginning of his reign — initially couldn't be bothered to defend the title. There might be way too much going on with MJF, who is also an ROH Tag Champion, but at the end of the day, he and Garcia were able to wrestle through all the noise, leading to one of the rare highlights of a somewhat messy and underwhelming episode of "Dynamite."

Loved: Outrunners run wild on TV (Berman)

Every time I've seen The Outrunners, they carry themselves like legends of a forgotten past. Initially standouts on "AEW Dark," the tandem radiates late '80s/early '90s WCW energy, carrying themselves like a mix of Hulk Hogan and Randy Savage, hot dogging, grandstanding, and ultimately looking at the lights. They would be right at home at a WCW Universal Studios Orlando taping, and in that way, they made the perfect opponent for Sting in his final match in Portland, Oregon. The WWE Hall of Famer looked right at home against the speedy, goofy tandem, Darby Allin playing supporting player as Sting delivered his greatest hits on both men to the delight of fans in Portland and at home.

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These are not humble local competitors — these are two colorful dudes who truly believe they are just one win away from turning their luck around and becoming the stars they carry themselves as. That kind of delusion is what makes undercard wrestlers, and dare I say, wrestling as a whole, great. I have no idea what either of their names are; they might as well be Outrunner 1 and Outrunner 2. But every time I see them booked, I get excited, knowing I'm about to see two indelible characters lose in vainglorious fashion. It's a simple promise, and the kind that made wrestling such a long-standing TV tradition.

Loved: Big meaty men slapping meat (Matthew Wilkinson, WINC news writer)

AEW has a lot of great technical wrestlers and a lot of high-flying stars, but every now and then, fans just want the meat. And the meat was delivered in spades during "AEW Dynamite" this week, as Keith Lee and Samoa Joe battled for the ROH World Television Championship. There were no thrills or frills in this one; instead, it was about who was going to hit the other hardest and leave their opponent lying on the mat.

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The live crowd ate up the entire encounter, proving — as Powerhouse Hobbs and Miro have done in the past — that there is a genuine thirst for this type of content on AEW programming. The two veterans had great chemistry together, opting to keep things simple as they played to their strengths to ensure an enjoyable match was put on for the audience, and it engaged the crowd from start to finish.

Joe was able to pick up a clean win after being pushed to his limit, which was the right way to book him considering he is being teased for a future AEW World Championship match. Meanwhile, Lee looked better than he had done in some time for AEW, reminding people why there was such a buzz about him signing for the company in the first place. It's the exact type of performance that the "Limitless One" needed — rather than pushing himself to the limits, he was able to stick to the basics and hit the power moves that few can make look as devastating as him. More of this content moving forward would be welcomed if this is going to be the standard.

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Hated: Big meaty men vacating titles (Wilkinson)

Ring Of Honor's overall booking and treatment on AEW television has been underwhelming and confusing from the moment Tony Khan purchased the company, and that continued Wednesday night. Samoa Joe has been one of the few stars to benefit from the ROH/AEW partnership, as his dominant run as ROH World Television Champion has allowed him to maintain his star power (and have something to brag about). His lengthy title run has showcased he is a fighting champion, which backs up all the trash that he talks.

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On Wednesday, however, Joe randomly announced he was vacating the title after successfully defending it against Keith Lee. The news came out of nowhere and served as a further example of booking that just buries ROH as a company, making it look like a second-rate promotion, which is a wider problem that Khan desperately needs to address if ROH is to have any form of sustainable long-term future.

Beyond that, though, the situation was simply confusing, because it isn't as if double champions aren't a thing in this company. MJF himself is the AEW World Champion and also one-half of the ROH World Tag Team Champions right now, while ROH World Champion Eddie Kingston also holds two titles. Joe claimed he was dropping the belt so he could focus on becoming AEW World Champion, but even on a basic storyline level, that doesn't make sense. Joe has made it clear he is willing to offer his "friendship" to help MJF in his hour of need, and in return, he wants an AEW World Championship match. It's a key part of the story — but vacating his own title was pointless, especially since MJF hadn't offered him the world title match yet.

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Had Joe decided to go on a warpath after dropping the title to demand a shot, it might have made more sense, but instead, he continued to tease the idea that he would help MJF. He popped up backstage when MJF was watching The Gunns cut a promo about him, and again at the end of the night after The Acclaimed had been attacked, so AEW hasn't given up on the original angle. But Joe vacating the TV title (ending the longest single reign in its existence, by the way) didn't work in the context of the grander storyline, and now whoever picks it up next looks second-rate. It's proving to be another example of confusing booking when trying to blend ROH on AEW television.

Hated: ...that's how you're debuting Mariah May? (Miles Schneiderman, WINC senior lead news editor)

Okay, I reserve the right to retract this "hated" if this storyline lives up to its clear and obvious potential — Toni Storm having to contend with a younger "starlet" who may or may not be stalking her is an idea that could very easily be amazing. I also understand that Mariah May, who's best known for her work in STARDOM, is hardly a household name. Still, she's also not an unknown, particularly to AEW's hardcore, extremely plugged-in audience, and she's been getting reported on as a notable free agent for months now. (She was even in our first-ever power rankings!) So it was really weird to see her just kind of show up for the first time in a random backstage segment in the middle of a random "Dynamite," doing a character bit with RJ City.

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Now, if this was WWE, it wouldn't really move the needle. WWE would absolutely debut Mariah May like this, and it wouldn't be a sign of anything negative. But in AEW, a promotion where it feels like every week we're expected to already know the entire body of work of some wrestler from AAA or GCW or New Japan, Mariah May's debut was an odd departure. And maybe that's a good thing! Maybe it's a sign that May is going to be more character-focused rather than just letting her in-ring work speak for her, which is something AEW could use more of. Again, the right to retract has been reserved. But on its face it just feels initially like another sign that Tony Khan doesn't think the women who wrestle for his company are as important as the men. Which, kudos for not pretending anymore, I guess.

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Hated: Please stop giving MJF new challengers for the AEW world title (Olivia Quinlan, WINC news writer)

You know, at this point, it seems as though it would be more productive for all the people who want matches with MJF for the AEW World Championship to be booked in actual storylines with one another rather than just arbitrarily declaring their intentions.

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I get that AEW wants to keep MJF looking strong as the champion, and one of the most effective ways of doing so is giving him a number of challengers. That being said, there's a right way of going about it, and I don't necessarily think this is the way. This has been an ongoing point of contention for me over the past few weeks, but tonight alone was a lot, between Wardlow's continued desire to take the title away from his former boss and Samoa Joe relinquishing the ROH Television Championship simply just to get a title shot.

The overarching angle in all of this is supposed to be MJF defending his title against Jay White. However, with all these challengers coming out of the woodwork, I can't help but feel like that storyline is getting lost in the mix with all the others. MJF vs. White should be front and center, as it's supposed to be leading to a huge pay-per-view match. It would be much more effective from a storytelling standpoint if White was putting forth these individuals for MJF to defend against every week. That way AEW can put on the title matches they want, and the storyline between MJF and White remains at the heart of it.

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